FeaturedShort Story



Must read 🏆

Author Ben Manhan explores grief, the pains of writing as a career, and philosophical musings in his intriguing debut short story, MindGap.

Protagonist Peter Mitchell, an aspiring writer, wanders through life feeling lost and helpless. After the untimely death of his brother, he channeled some of his grief into writing a book called Invisible Pain but feels conflicted over finding minor success over the "commercialization" of his brother's death. A visit to the site of his brother's passing away sends Peter into a depressive spiral, resulting in Peter deciding to spend the night drinking, getting into a bar fight, and then destroying a fancy billboard in his grief.

Author Ben Manhan does a great job setting Peter up to be sympathized with by the reader, a feat that could take several chapters in a full-length novel but is done quickly here in just a few pages of this short story. Peter's inner thoughts show us how close he was to his brother, Kevin, feeling as if he was the only one who understood and supported him. His self-loathing runs deep, which might make other protagonists seem pathetic, but the reader understands where Peter is coming from.

After being arrested, he's brought before the woman whose billboard he destroyed and falls apart when she inadvertently quotes the title of his book about Kevin. "Invisible pain. We all have some," she says while interrogating Peter over his motives. She offers Peter a chance to escape--not just punishment, but escape from his inner demons--and he finds himself in a science-fiction sort of room where a program called MindGap promises to help him turn his life around.

Ultimately, this story is about what we want, and the steps we do or don't take to achieve our goals. Would you do anything to be successful, even lose a part of yourself? Are you certain about what you want, or do secret, unacknowledged desires linger beneath the surface? Is happiness tied to the achievement of success? For a short, just under 70-page story, Ben Manhan intriguingly explores this, leaving me musing over philosophical questions long after I'd finished reading the book. Perhaps it will do the same for you as well.

Reviewed by

I'm a blogger who taught myself to read at age 2, promptly beginning a life of being in trouble for blowing off chores & homework to read instead (this has absolutely extended to my adult life). I love fiction and graphic novels! My reviews here may also be published on my website & Goodreads.


About the author

Ben Manhan was born, raised, and writes in the suburbs of Los Angeles. His interest in writing began years ago with an animated television project, but has since developed into all forms of prose beginning with his short story MindGap. view profile

Published on March 22, 2022

Published by Summer House Publishing

10000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Short Story

Reviewed by